By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press
LITCHFIELD, Conn. (AP) _ A former Torrington High School football player was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old, a ruling that came hours after a teammate pleaded guilty to a similar charge involving a second girl.
Edgar Gonzalez, 18, was sentenced in Superior Court on a charge of second-degree sexual assault in a case that gained national attention after the victims were subjected to harassing comments on Twitter.
“All my life, I’ve been involved in sports; I’ve been a good person,” said Gonzalez, who pleaded guilty in June to second-degree sexual assault. “I have no excuse for my actions.”
The mother of the victim referred to her child as “our sweet baby girl.”
“He stole something that she will never be able to get back,” she said. “He raped her.”
Hours earlier, another football player, 18-year-old Joan Toribio pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault in the same case. As part of his plea agreement, Toribio will not have to register as a sex offender.
He’s expected to be sentenced Nov. 15.
“This is an isolated incident that he was involved in,” said Toribio’s lawyer, Charles Brower.
Prosecutors said the assaults occurred Feb. 10 at Toribio’s home.
Gonzalez, Torrington High School’s most valuable player last year, was one of four football players charged in a case that involved two victims. He was out on bond at the time of the assault, after being charged in a March 2012 robbery of three 14-year-old boys. He also was sentenced Friday to 3-years in that case, a sentence that will be served concurrently with sexual assault sentence.
Authorities say the accusers and suspects knew one another, and the girls had sneaked out of their homes at 3 a.m. to visit the players, drink and smoke marijuana.
State law prohibits sexual encounters between a 13-year-old and anyone more than three years older. But prosecutor Terri Sonnemann emphasized that the Gonzalez’s victim never consented to sex, and repeatedly told him “No.”
“The fact is you just used her for what you wanted,” Superior Court Judge John Danaher said before passing sentence.
The case drew attention because the girls were bullied on Twitter by the players’ supporters who accused the victims of “snitching” and “ruining” the players’ lives.
The case led to new social media rules in Torrington for student athletes. Students would be punished for posting belittling or mean-spirited comments online or using derogatory language to describe someone’s race, gender or sexual orientation.
They also would face discipline for posting about using drugs or alcohol.
Authorities said two 17-year-old football players also were arrested and charged with sexual assault for incidents involving one of the 13-year-old girls. Their cases have been sealed.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)